I have shied away from writing for a while now. Not for anything in particular except that there has been so much going on in my life over the past several months. I have tried to write posts and given up because there is always just so much on my mind and so much that I want to articulate that it would inevitably turn into rambling and I would lose the interest of most of you.
That time is done.
I will re-enter the blogging world with an address speaking to the topics that have been weighing on my heart for the past several weeks and coming to a head this past week; racism and a war that is raging in the hearts and minds of white Christians all across the country.
I’ll save you the time and not launch into any myopic “my thoughts on systematic racism in America” or “but I have black friends too” statements of futile endeavor.
As an incredibly privileged white male in this society, I am more uncomfortable than I have ever been; even more uncomfortable than being the only white person in the room 75% of the time in Haiti. If you’re honest with yourself, you probably are more uncomfortable than you’ve ever been too. With racism being covered by the news now more than ever before (for the past 400+ years), it is an undeniable fact: we as a nation are still incredibly racist. I know that for years when I was younger I didn’t ever think about racism and didn’t even realize that it was still present in my country. Now that I am not so ignorant (still got a long way to go), and I have learned more through conversations and relationships that I hold dear, I will be held accountable for sins of omission if I fail to act.
I may not be able to donate thousands of dollars to one of the many justice for black lives organizations that are working around the clock to fight for the oppressed, but I can sign petitions, vote, and talk about racism in my circles of influence. I can condemn racist talk or actions when I am in the presence of them. I can stand up for my brothers and sisters of color through my daily actions and in my relationships. I can read and educate myself. I can be OK with being uncomfortable and talking about racism.
I believe one of the most prominent influences on white Christians today is our comfort.
We fail to speak up because we are afraid it will cause us discomfort. We fail to learn about and knowledge our country’s past because it will make us uncomfortable. We fail to act because we don’t want our comfort to be taken away from us.
I am reminded of the story of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. Let me tell you folks, all too often that ain’t us. Our silence for the oppressed and weary, whether by lack of word or lack of action, aligns us to the priest and the Levite who are more concerned with their OWN COMFORT than they are the life of another image-bearer of God. We don’t want to dirty our sanitary, peaceful lives with what we think is just the problem of others. MUCH LIKE THE LAWYER that is questioning Jesus before the parable, we also want to JUSTIFY our lack of love for our neighbor by trying to define “neighbor” as people who look like us, sound like us, have the same incomes as us. (v 29)
Christ crucified dumps water on this self-righteous flame. The body of Christ needs to FIRST individually stand up for what is right before we can ever hope to corporately as the Church, stand beside our hurting and oppressed brothers and sisters of color. We need to get our hearts right before we can expect our churches to do the right thing. Redemption and reform needs to come personally before it can come nationally. WE NEED TO BE OK WITH BEING UNCOMFORTABLE before we will ever stretch a helping hand out or offer a listening ear to those who have needed it for generations.
Heart change must come before systematic change. We need to have these conversations with our black and brown friends and family and neighbors and fellow humans whom God so dearly loves and weeps with. We need to learn how to silence ourselves in order to let the voices of the oppressed be heard louder. We need to educate ourselves of the broken systems that have been built and perpetuated for centuries against people of color. We need to realize that there is such a thing as white privilege and it can be used to help support the oppressed and weary. We need to support black organizations and businesses. We need to understand before we act. We need to listen before we speak. We need to love before we hate.
The greatest single enemy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in America today is comfort.
If you are comfortable, I urge you to not let the lies of comfort dissuade you from being like Jesus.
We need to start there.
This is war.
“God prepare me for the war
Comfort be the thing that’ll make a king fall
Eyes on the Lord, gotta grip that blade of the sword
Tell me how you plan on gettin’ swole if you don’t ever get sore”